IRRIGATION AND DRAINAGE — WATER RIGHTS AND RECLAMATION
GROUND WATER RECHARGE
42-4201. Jerome, Lincoln, Gooding and Twin Falls counties — Project to recharge ground water basins — Director’s authority to issue permit — Limitations. (1) The welfare of the people of the state of Idaho is dependent upon the conservation, development, augmentation and optimum use of the water resources of this state. The legislature deems it essential therefore that every effort be made to foster and encourage water projects designed to promote these objectives. The legislature hereby acknowledges that the proposed project to recharge ground water basins in Jerome, Lincoln and Gooding counties by means of the storage of unappropriated waters of the Snake River and its tributaries in underground lava beds within that vicinity represents a unique and innovative endeavor to further water conservation and increase the water available for beneficial use. The legislature approves this undertaking as a pilot effort to bring about maximum realization of our water resource potential and finds, in particular, that this project shall serve the interests of the public and advance the multiple use water policy of this state by:
(a) sustaining and increasing the flow of springs in the general vicinity of the Hagerman Valley;
(b) increasing the water available for withdrawal from ground water basins located in Jerome, Gooding and Lincoln counties;
(c) supplementing the supply of water available for irrigation downstream from the Hagerman Valley;
(d) providing additional aquatic habitats for migratory fowl and wildlife; and
(e) increasing and sustaining the flow of the Snake River during the summer months and in times of drought when additional flow is needed for the generation of hydroelectric power and the maintenance of water recreation facilities.
(2) In view of the public betterment to be achieved by the completion of this water project, the legislature hereby declares that the appropriation and underground storage of water by the aquifer recharge district hereinafter created for purposes of ground water recharge shall constitute a beneficial use and hereby authorizes the department of water resources to issue to the aquifer recharge district a permit, pursuant to section 42-203 [42-203A], Idaho Code, for the appropriation and underground storage of the unappropriated waters of the Snake River in Jerome, Lincoln and Gooding counties and its tributaries in Gooding and Lincoln counties. The department of water resources is further authorized to issue to the aquifer recharge district a license confirming the right to appropriate such waters for the beneficial use herein established upon compliance by the district with the requirements specified in chapter 2, title 42, Idaho Code. The rights acquired by the aquifer recharge district pursuant to any permit and license obtained as herein authorized shall be secondary to all prior perfected water rights, including those held by any privately-owned electrical generating company to appropriate waters in the reaches of the Snake River downstream from the Milner diversion for purposes of hydroelectric power generation.
(3) The director of the department of water resources may regulate the amount of water which the aquifer recharge district may appropriate from the Snake River and may reduce such amount, even though there is sufficient water to supply the entire amount originally authorized, but only if the following conditions are met:
(a) the amount of water available for appropriation by the district at the time the reduction is sought exceeds two hundred thousand (200,000) acre feet per year and the reduction, if granted, will not operate to deplete that amount to less than two hundred thousand (200,000) acre feet per year;
(b) the persons or entities seeking the reduction propose to use the water for purposes of surface reservoir storage and appropriation by the district of the entire amount originally authorized will prevent or adversely affect accomplishment of those purposes;
(c) the persons or entities seeking the reduction present substantial and compelling evidence to show that the accomplishment of such purposes will be prevented or adversely affected and the director finds on the basis of such evidence that sufficient justification for the reduction exists.
Even if the foregoing conditions are satisfied and a reduction is granted, such a reduction shall remain in effect only so long as the amount of water available for appropriation by the district exceeds two hundred thousand (200,000) acre feet per year.
The provisions of this subsection shall not apply to appropriation of water by the district from the Big Wood River or the Little Wood River.
(4) To insure that other water rights are not injured by the operations of the aquifer recharge district, the director of the department of water resources shall have the authority to approve, disapprove, or require alterations in the methods employed by the district to achieve ground water recharge. In the event that the director determines that the district’s methods of operation are adversely affecting existing water rights or are creating conditions adverse to the beneficial use of water under existing water rights, the director shall order the cessation of operations until such alterations as may be ordered by the director have been accomplished or such adverse effects otherwise have been corrected.
(5) The fee required for an application for a permit to appropriate water as provided in section 42-221, Idaho Code, is hereby waived from the effective date of this act until July 1, 1997, for recharge projects for recharge districts formed under this section.
[42-4201, added 1978, ch. 293, sec. 1, p. 724; am. 1994, ch. 273, sec. 1, p. 849; am. 1995, ch. 338, sec. 1, p. 1117.]